Stange agrees that Singapore football's not up to par
(Faris Ramli 54, Baihakki Khaizan 80)
(Shawn Nicklaw 37, Jason Cunliffe 74)
Twice, the Lions, ranked 153rd in the world, trailed 167th-placed Guam.
Twice, the four-time Asean champions had to claw their way back to avoid an embarrassing defeat.
And while national coach Bernd Stange seemed satisfied enough with a 2-2 draw at Jalan Besar Stadium before 1,864 fans, last night's result, coupled with the national Under-22 team's inability to beat Mongolia just hours earlier, begs the question: Is Singapore football in trouble?
When The New Paper put the question to Stange, the German said: "In general, I would not allow critics to get in our way, but you are absolutely right with your question.
"We have to make big steps in our youth development.
"We have to do it, because those players who played Mongolia today are the players I'm waiting for to step into our national 'A' team.
"I read today (in a TNP article about national youth players on a training attachment at FC Metz) that our three youngsters in France are having cramps every day because they train 90 minutes every day, and on Sunday - which is considered a family day in Singapore - they have to work in the gym.
"That is the only way, nothing can beat hard work.
"But today, it's the national team and I want to speak about the national team, but your concerns are right... These are concerns we have, but we are working on it."
Stange added he felt the national team are heading "in the right direction" and that he is seeing "progress" from the time when he took over the team in May 2013.
On the back of a meek 2-0 defeat by Suzuki Cup champions Thailand in Korat last Friday, Singapore started poorly against Guam last night.
The Pacific Islanders, who were unspectacular but had the edge in terms of physicality, aggression and intensity, started brightly, only to be let down by poor finishing.
They eventually opened the scoring in the 37th minute through Shawn Nicklaw, who got on the end of Shawn Malcolm's near-post cross.
A chorus of boos rang around Jalan Besar at half-time, but the hosts emerged with more purpose for the second half.
They were rewarded when Faris Ramli headed home an equaliser nine minutes after the restart, off Ismadi Mukhtar's pin-point cross.
But the Lions were caught sleeping when Guam captain Jason Cunliffe volleyed his side in front again in the 74th minute after receiving a throw-in.
The home side's blushes were spared 10 minutes before the end, when centurions Shahril Ishak and Baihakki Khaizan - both plying their trade in the Malaysian second division with Johor Darul Ta'zim II - combined and the latter turned a short-corner routine home from close range.
While Stange rued his players' lack of concentration, he added: "We are not down, and all questions of 'Guam who?' are answered today.
"You don't see me very happy, but finally relaxed because we did our job and came back and, if the team give everything over 90 minutes, you shouldn't be too disappointed as a coach.
"If the players didn't have team spirit, we would have lost today. But how we came back... was good."
Guam were happy to prove their critics wrong, after some had wondered, pre-match, if Singapore would have benefited from playing a team ranked 14 places below them.
Their coach Gary White said: "Singapore are four-time Suzuki Cup winners, and we are a country of 200,000... It goes to show you cannot take anyone lightly at the international level now."
Skipper Cunliffe added: "No one thought anything of us, but I knew what we were capable of.
"I even told No. 14 (Hariss Harun) at yesterday's press conference that your guys shouldn't underestimate us.
"A lot of us are not professionals and we're looking for contracts and, hopefully tonight, we managed to show some people in Singapore - maybe some from S.League clubs - what we can do."